Landed estates in Dorset since 1870 : their survival and influence.
Dorset retains ten of the twelve landed estates owning 10,000 acres listed in the
1883 edition of John Bateman's Survey, most still with considerable acreages, in a
county which remains predominantly rural. Yet historians saw the attempted
sales of land in England between 1918 and 1921 as a watershed beyond which
agricultural landownership ceased to have any importance.
Part I of this thesis uses extensive sales catalogue data to establish a chronology
of attempted sales from Dorset landed estates, and seeks to isolate the economic,
social, political and personal factors which led to land being put on the market.
Data is then used, in the main from the 1942 War Agricultural Cultivations
subcommittee minutes, to discover the results of earlier attempts to sell, and the
emergence of new agricultural landowners. MAFF data on holdings sizes
confirms a picture of the rebuilding of estates post World War Two. Throughout,
exemplification comes from privately and publicly held estate archives.
Part H uses estate archive material supplemented by minutes. from Dorset County
Council and District Council Committees; from the Dorset branch of the Council
for the Preservation (then Protection) of Rural England, and Forestry Commission
leases, to establish the considerable influence landowners continued to wield post
World War Two. A chapter on housing shows how state aid to the county's
council housing was distorted by the national landowner stance on tied housing.
A chapter on countryside protection considers the, curbing of industry and
suburbia and discovers conflicting and ambiguous landowner attitudes concerning
the protection of the rural landscape. Finally, a chapter on development traces the
evolution of the Dorset landownership position with regard to development,
which has accompanied the recent rise in land values.
The whole shows that not only have Dorset landed estates survived the pressures
which appeared to threaten to sweep them away, but their influence has resulted
in the continuation of a predominantly rural landscape today.